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Widespread Significant Rains

Widespread Significant Rains:

With strong southerly flow of air bringing in warmer temperatures and elevated dew points this week Minnesota has welcomed the most significant rainfalls in nearly four weeks. Many areas of the state have reported total rainfall ranging from 1.5 to 2 inches since late Tuesday. A few observers in Hennepin, Wright, Marshall, and Cook Counties reported receiving over 2 inches. Near the Tamarac Refuge in western Marshall County there was a report of over 4 inches of rainfall. The most intense rainfalls came late on May 19th and were even accompanied by a few weak tornadoes in southern Minnesota. Areas of Steele, Rice, and Scott Counties reported brief tornado touchdowns during the evening hours, with some damage to trees. Fortunately, the thunderstorm cells did not produce any hail or downburst winds. More detail on the rains and storms this week can be found at the Minnesota State Climatology Office web site.

Dew points rose into the 60s F on Wednesday, the highest of the year so far. Late in the day MSP airport reported a new daily record dew point of 67°F. Many other areas of the state reported dew points in the low to mid 60s F.

Earlier in the week according to the US Drought Monitor over 60 Minnesota Counties had reported drier than normal conditions, while portions of 30 counties reported Moderate Drought, and two northwestern counties reported Severe Drought. The rains this week will likely help alleviate the drought and dryness in most areas. Modest amounts of daily rainfall generate less runoff and generally soak into the soil much more efficiently than do the intense rainfalls that deliver over an inch or two. Chances for rainfall remain in the forecasts for most areas until Tuesday night of next week, so chances are good that many areas will see some good amounts of soil moisture recharge before the month ends.

Weekly Weather Potpourri:

This week, the BBC Weather Center provides an interesting glimpse at sports in the year 2050 and how both fans and athletes might be coping with climate change effects on daily weather by then. Some of our favorite sports and sports venues are likely to be seriously affected by climate change as heat stress and drought become more frequent and severe.

A recent climate study of Yellowstone National Park was published this week in Geophysical Research Letters. The scientists studied the climate of the past 1250 years using tree ring data and concluded that 2016 was the warmest year of record and that the warming trend since the year 2000 is the most intense in the record.

This week’s AGU-EOS Bulletin features a good article about the Polar Vortex and what we know and don’t know about it. It also differentiates between the behavior of the stratospheric Polar Vortex and the tropospheric Polar Vortex, both of which fluctuate in a manner that can affect our weather patterns in Minnesota.

MPR listener question:

Heard you talk with Cathy about snow this month near Two Harbors even with the temperatures in the 40s F. Has anyone reported measurable snowfall this month in Minnesota, and where was the most snowfall in Minnesota over the 2020-2021 snow season?


No measurable snowfall amounts have been reported this month in Minnesota, though flurries have been reported in Cook, Lake, and St Louis Counties across northeastern Minnesota. The seasonal snowfall winners in Minnesota were also in the northeast with observers in Duluth, Two Harbors, Cook, and Babbitt all reporting over 70 inches. Outside Two Harbors they reported a little over 78 inches. Most places in the state reported below normal snowfall for this past snow season.

Twin Cities Almanac for May 21st:

The average MSP high temperature for this date is 71 degrees F (plus or minus 10 degrees F standard deviation), while the average low is 51 degrees F (plus or minus 8 degrees F standard deviation).

MSP Local Records for May 21st:

MSP records for this date include: highest daily maximum temperature of 92 degrees F in 1964; lowest daily maximum temperature of 46 degrees F in 1915; lowest daily minimum temperature of 33 degrees F in 1997; highest daily minimum temperature of 71 degrees F in 1921; record precipitation of 3.16 inches in 1906. Record snowfall is a Trace in 1963.

Average dew point for May 21st is 47°F; the maximum dew point on this date is 69°F in 1974; and the minimum dew point on this date is 17 degrees F in 1924.

All-time state records for May 21st:

The state record high temperature for this date is 100 degrees F at Thief River Falls (Pennington County) in 1964. The state record low temperature for this date is 17 degrees F at Embarrass (St Louis County) in 2006. The state record precipitation for this date is 5.75 inches at Montgomery (Le Sueur County) in 1960. Record snowfall is 2.5 inches at Pigeon River (Cook County) in 1926.

Past Weather Features:

A frosty morning greeted most Minnesota farmers on May 21, 1895. Morning temperatures were in the 20s F as far south as Grand Meadow, with frosts also reported from Caledonia, and St Peter.

Over May 21-22, 1924 an Alberta Clipper storm brought cold and snow to many parts of northern Minnesota. With temperatures in the 30s F portions of Polk, Beltrami, and Otter Tail Counties reported 1-2 inches of snowfall.

The warmest May 21 in state history was in 1964 when over 80 climate stations reported afternoon high temperatures in the 90s F. International Falls reported a high of 95°F while Duluth Harbor reported a high temperature of just 53°F that day.


Hot and sticky on Saturday, but mostly dry. Cloudier later in the day with a chance for thunderstorms. Continued chance for thunderstorms Sunday through Monday with temperatures warmer than normal. Cooler by Wednesday and Thursday next week, with increasing chances for showers again by Thursday and Friday.

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